Dark Cell – Some Time Later
Willow awakened slowly, groggily, pushing herself up from a cold, hard floor. She sat up and glanced around the dark room, a look of confusion on her face. She blinked her eyes several times, trying to adjust them to the low light. Then she pushed herself to her feet.
“What the hell?” she said to herself. She turned around to look at the room, sheer confusion on her face.
The sound of a small scuff on the floor came from a corner of the room and Willow whipped around to face it.
“Who’s there?” she called out to the darkness.
No sound came from the corner. Willow straightened herself into a brave stance.
“I know you’re there, so you might as well show yourself,” Willow said.
Another scuffing noise echoed in the dark room, and then a figure emerged from the shadows – a female figure. The woman was dressed in tight black leather pants and a black leather halter top. A leather mask covered the upper portion of her face, obscuring her identity. The woman didn’t speak. She simply began circling lazily around Willow.
Willow followed the figure as she moved, but at intervals, Willow cut her eyes to different areas of the room, scanning for an exit. After a few tries, Willow found the door on the other side of the cell. Willow gaped in amazement when she saw that the door was actually open. Willow quickly glanced away from the door and back to the circling figure.
Willow looked at her captor’s outfit and smiled. “I think somebody’s got a bad case of Catwoman envy.”
The dark figure didn’t respond.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” she said to the figure. The woman still didn’t speak. “Did I get kidnapped by a mime? ‘Cause I have to admit…that would be scary.”
When the figure passed her, leaving an open path to the door, Willow dashed for the exit. Right when she got to it, though, it slammed shut, closed by magic.
The woman sent out a white bolt of magical energy towards Willow. It lashed itself like a whip around Willow’s neck, ensnaring her. Willow grabbed at it, desperately trying to pry it from her neck, but her efforts were useless. The bolt dragged Willow away from the door and past the sorceress. Then, with a hard yank, it slammed her into the wall. She gasped at the impact.
Before Willow could regain her breath, the whip-like tendril of energy rose, lifting her by her neck so that her feet barely touched the floor. Willow was forced to stand on her tiptoes in order to breathe. The sorceress let Willow hang there for a moment. Willow met her captor’s eyes, but still the woman didn’t speak. After a long stare, the woman gave the tiniest possible grin.
The magical bolt around Willow’s neck slowly rose, dragging her upwards. Willow struggled in vain as her feet left the floor. She began to choke. She fought it as long as she could, but finally her eyes fluttered closed and she went limp as her air supply failed. The dark figure instantly released her, and Willow crumpled to the floor.
Willow’s chest heaved as she sucked in air. As soon as she did, she found herself strung up again. The sorceress repeated the process, strangling Willow until she nearly lost consciousness, then releasing her at the last second.
After the third time, Willow lay on the floor, gasping for air. “Who…the hell… are you?” she managed to ask.
The sorceress gestured in Willow’s direction and the redhead was tossed across the room and into the sidewall. She fell to the floor with a groan. Before she could even sit up, Willow was picked up and thrown to the opposite side of the room, where she crashed into a table and chairs.
Lying on the floor, Willow moaned in pain. “Never mind…that’s okay…” she joked weakly, “I-I-I don’t really need to know who you are…”
Willow struggled to a sitting position. A gash on her forehead bled profusely, and she held her arm against her side, as if her ribs were hurting. She grimaced and took a deep breath. Then a look of resolve came over her face.
“Look, you can tell your boss, Volano, that this kidnapping routine of his isn’t going to work. It didn’t work with Ro, and it’s not going to work with me. My friends will find me and –”
The dark figure gestured again, and the whip-like tendril was back. It lashed itself around Willow’s throat, dragging her to her feet and pulling her until she was standing, weak-legged, in front of the sorceress. The figure finally spoke.
“I don’t care about your friends. And I don’t work for Volano,” she said firmly.
“Who is it then? The Presidium?” Willow asked. “Well, it’s not going to work. We know they’re coming, and we’re going to be ready for –”
The energy lash constricted, cutting off Willow’s courageous words. The sorceress closed in.
“I don’t work for anyone,” she said.
She released the magical bolt, dropping Willow, who wobbled but somehow managed to stay on her feet. She rubbed her bruised neck. “Who are you?” she asked.
The figure pulled off her mask. “You can call me Shadow,” she said.
Willow looked intently at the raven-haired woman, but her face showed no recognition of her at all. Willow took a step back.
“What do you want from me?” Willow asked.
Shadow put her hand on her chin in a mock thinking pose. “Oh, let’s see…screaming, crying, bleeding, writhing, begging…that sort of thing.”
“Why? I don’t even know you.”
Shadow’s expression turned hard and cold, and then, with no apparent time in the interim, her face was suddenly inches from Willow’s. “You killed my brother,” she said in a deadly voice.
“Y-Y-Your brother…?” Willow replied nervously.
“Yes,” Shadow replied.
She stared long and hard into Willow’s eyes. Willow was unable to tear her gaze away.
“Remember when you strung him up?” Shadow continued. “Remember when you ripped the life from him?”
“Oh god…” Willow said, with a horrified expression. “Warren…”
Shadow wrapped her hand around Willow’s throat and then shoved her against the wall.
“Can you imagine how it felt…to find him hanging there upside down? Sucked dry, an empty shell?” Shadow said. “I sensed his death a dimension away and came running, but I was too late.”
“You’re…You’re Rack’s sister,” Willow gasped. Slowly, her eyes opened very slightly wider in realization.
“Not just his sister, his twin…the other half of his soul.” A pained expression entered Shadow’s eyes. “He was everything to me, and you took him from me.” She released her grip on Willow’s throat, and the redhead fell to her knees on the concrete floor, sudden tears welling up in her eyes. “And now you’re going to pay.”
“It’s too late for sorries…Strawberry,” Shadow said menacingly. She snapped her fingers, and the glowing, magical lariat reappeared in her hand.
Watchers Council – Library – Same Time
Mia entered the library and glanced around the room. She found Rowena sitting at a long table, looking up at her.
“Mia, hi,” Rowena said in greeting, as Mia walked over. “Are you looking for Kennedy?”
Mia dropped her gaze to her hands. “No,” the slayer replied. “Actually…I was looking for you.”
“Well, you found me,” Rowena said with a grin. “What can I do for you?”
Mia shifted her weight several times and wrung her hands, but she still didn’t meet Rowena’s eyes. Seeing her discomfort, the blonde watcher rose from her chair and came to stand beside the slayer. She reached out and touched Mia’s arm.
“Mia, what is it?” Rowena asked in a concerned voice.
“It’s…” Mia hesitated, her mouth working to get the words out. “It’s about me and Kennedy,” she finally managed to say. She brought her eyes up to meet Rowena’s.
Rowena scrunched her forehead in confusion. “Come on, why don’t we sit down and you can tell me all about it?” Rowena led Mia to the chair next to hers and they both sat down. “What’s bothering you?”
Mia looked at her left hand and twisted the heart-shaped diamond ring on her middle finger. “It’s Kennedy. I think that she…I think I’m losing her.”
Mia nodded. “To Kadin.”
“Kadin’s not even here,” Rowena pointed out.
“She might as well be. She’s in her thoughts, in her dreams.”
“Kennedy told you that she’s dreaming about Kadin?”
“Well, no, but it’s obvious that she is,” Mia insisted. “She’s probably replaying their night together in Bucharest,” she added bitterly.
“Did something happen between them in Bucharest?” Rowena asked gently.
“Yes!” Mia snapped with certainty. Then she wavered. “No…I don’t know!” Mia threw her hands up in frustration.
“Have you asked her?”
“No,” Mia admitted, dropping her gaze. “When she came home, I-I was just so glad she was back. I didn’t want to push her away. And then later, I was…”
Rowena frowned as the slayer trailed off. “You were afraid of what she would tell you,” she speculated.
Mia nodded ruefully. “I wanna know…but I don’t.”
Rowena smiled compassionately at Mia and gave her hand a squeeze. “There’s really only one solution here, and I think you know what it is.”
“Talk to Kennedy,” Mia answered.
Rowena nodded. Mia took a deep breath and let that advice sink in. “Besides,” Rowena continued, “It might not be as bad as you think. After all, Kennedy is here, with you – not with Kadin. That says something.”
That comment got a smile out of Mia, and she rose to her feet. When Rowena joined her, she gave the watcher a hug. “Thanks, Ro,” she said, then headed for the door.
Rowena waved encouragingly to Mia as she left. But once the slayer had gone, Rowena dropped her hand and sighed, a frown replacing her smile.
Dark Cell – Some Time Later
Willow floated face-up in the air, with her body contorted into an unnatural position, as if she had been bent backwards over some invisible object and her wrists bound to her ankles. Her clothes were ripped and torn in multiple places and stained with her own blood. Sweat covered her forehead, and her face was twisted in pain, her breath coming in short pants.
Shadow slowly circled her captive. In her hands, she held a metal rod about a yard long. It was dark gray, and its surface had been etched with mystical symbols. Shadow tapped the rod in her palm as she moved around Willow. When she came to a stop in front of Willow, the tapping stopped, and she held the rod firmly in both hands. She met Willow’s eyes.
Then, without warning, the sorceress thrust the rod forward until it made contact with Willow’s stomach. An enormous electrical surge left the rod and entered Willow. Her body began to shake and convulse, and she screamed. After a few seconds of contact, Shadow pulled the rod away, ending the surge. Willow continued to shake afterwards, her scream fading into desperate gasps.
Shadow waved her hand and released Willow from her floating position. Willow fell like a dead weight to the floor. Except for her agonized breathing, Willow didn’t move. Shadow sat cross-legged beside Willow and pulled the limp woman into her lap. She pushed Willow’s hair off her forehead and then stroked her face gently.
“So strong,” Shadow said, “and yet…essentially powerless.”
When Shadow met her eyes, Willow glared in response.
“It must be so frustrating for you, wanting that power back so badly, seeing me wield it with such ease before you…”
“I…don’t want…the kind of power…you have,” Willow croaked.
Shadow laughed. “Oh, please! I know you miss it. I can tell.”
Willow shook her head in denial.
“Oh, you’re all calm, cool and collected on the outside, but I can feel what’s on the inside,” Shadow said, placing her hand on Willow’s chest and closing her eyes. “Inside…you’re just shaking…trembling with your desire for it…your need for it.” Shadow opened her eyes and smiled seductively. “Want a little taste?” she offered.
Willow’s eyes widened in alarm, and she shook her head insistently. Somehow, she shoved Shadow to the floor and forced herself to sit up. She turned over to get on her knees and crawl away, but she turned the wrong way and ended up straddling Shadow’s body.
Before Willow could get away, Shadow touched her palm to Willow’s chest and, with a tiny, purple flaring around her fingertips, sent a small dose of black magic into the witch’s body. Willow immediately reacted. She closed her eyes and moaned in pleasure, lowering her shoulders and then raising them again in a rocking motion. She began to pant. When she opened her eyes, they were solid black. Shadow pulled her hand away. The smallest hint of a smile crossed Willow’s lips, but then she saw Shadow beneath her and her face fell.
“No,” Willow cried, crawling off Shadow. She backed away until she got to the wall. She fell back against it, into a sitting position. She clenched her fists tightly and closed her eyes. “No, no,” she repeated, shaking her head. She opened her eyes and looked at the ceiling. With a final “no,” the black in her eyes receded.
Shadow raised an eyebrow and smirked.
Watchers Council – Library – Same Time
Jeff eased the library door open and stuck his head inside. He carefully looked around the room. When it seemed that no one was there, he stepped inside and quietly shut the door. Carrying his notebook, he crept toward the locked rooms on the far side of the library.
Jeff jumped noticeably at the voice, nearly dropping his notebook. He turned toward the speaker. “Holy moly, Rowena!” he said to the blonde watcher as she approached him. “You scared the bejesus outta me!”
“Sorry,” she said. “I’m on my way out. Did you need something?”
“Oh…no, not really…I-I-I’m just here to get in a little study time,” Jeff replied.
“Okay,” Rowena said agreeably. “Just turn out the lights when you’re done.”
“No problem,” Jeff said, giving Rowena a thumbs-up.
Jeff waited a moment, until he was sure that she had gone. Then he made his way quickly to the last doorway on the far side. A sign on the door read, “Restricted Area – Senior Watchers Only.”
He twisted the knob, and found that it was locked. He stepped back, closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. When he opened his eyes, he held his palm out towards the doorknob.
“Resera,” he commanded in Latin.
Instantly, he heard a metal pop as the door was unlocked. He turned the knob again, and the door opened easily. He went inside and turned on the light.
It was a small, windowless office, containing a small desk and two walls full of shelves. This was the restricted area where the darker, more dangerous books were housed. Jeff put down his notebook, then went to one shelf and quickly scanned its contents. As soon as he found what he was looking for, he pulled the volume from the shelf and set it on the desk next to his notebook. Its title was Visiones Vatium.
Jeff sat down and opened his notebook. He turned to a page on which he had already written some notes. At the top, he had written “Visions of the Seers.” He turned to a passage marked in the book and resumed his note-taking.
Dark Cell – Some Time Later
Willow sat like an abandoned rag doll, leaning against the wall of the cell, her arms limp at her sides. Her eyelids hung, half-open. Shadow sat right next to her, also leaning against the wall.
“I’ve been watching you for some time now,” Shadow said to Willow. “I wanted to get to know you a little first, determine your habits, and wait for the perfect opportunity.”
Willow didn’t answer, or even move, except for a few slow blinks.
Shadow turned sideways so that she faced Willow. “You know what event fascinated me the most?”
“No, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me,” Willow replied un-enthusiastically.
“When that sorcerer…what was his name…Ethan…when Ethan was shot,” Shadow answered.
Willow cut her eyes toward Shadow, swallowed noticeably, then cut her eyes away again.
“You were so distraught, so convinced that you couldn’t ‘fix it’,” Shadow commented.
“Turns out, he didn’t need fixing,” Willow said.
“It must be so exasperating – not being able to help your friends, to keep them safe from all the big bad evil in the world.”
Willow sighed heavily and slowly rotated her head so that she could look Shadow in the eyes. “Know what?” Willow said. “I liked you better when you were keeping your mouth shut. So until you decide to kill me for good, let’s make this a quiet time. Whadda ya say?” Then she turned her head away again.
Shadow’s eyes narrowed, and with the flash of a gesture, the sorceress levitated Willow into the air and slammed her onto her back on the table in the corner. Willow grunted as she landed. Before she could attempt to rise, the whip-like energy tendril was back, now split into four. It wrapped itself around her wrists and ankles, lashing her down to the table.
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Shadow asked. She paused in thought a moment, then continued with false cheer. “You know, I should have picked up one of your little friends and included them in the festivities.” Then her face hardened. “Then I could let you know what it feels like to lose someone.”
“I do know what it feels like,” Willow spat back.
“Is that so?” Shadow asked. She moved to stand behind Willow’s head.
Shadow closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and spent several long moments gathering red, glowing energy around each of her hands. When her eyes flew open, she grabbed Willow’s head with both hands. Willow’s body immediately arched in reaction.
“No,” Willow groaned, almost under her breath. “I won’t let you…in…” She struggled uselessly against her bonds, writhing in agony. She clenched her jaw tightly, keeping in a scream.
Shadow smiled, seemingly feeding off Willow’s pain. “Oh…that’s right…keep fighting me…you’re making it hurt soooo good!”
Willow bucked her body once, then twice, then let out a piercing scream.
Shadow removed her hands from Willow’s head, breaking the connection between them. Willow fell back, on the table, panting, tears flowing freely down her bruised face. Shadow stumbled backwards, rendered temporarily light-headed by the experience.
“Oh my god,” Shadow said with an amazed laugh. “You did lose someone. This is so perfect.” Shadow steadied herself and walked around the table to look Willow in the eyes. “You should completely understand my point of view here.”
“No!” Willow said hotly. “You’re wrong. I was wrong. I let my rage consume me, and I became everything I hate, everything she would have hated.”
“That’s where Tara and Rack are different. He wouldn’t care.”
Shadow looked at Willow thoughtfully for a moment. Willow’s eyes widened in fear as Shadow reached toward her with glowing hands. She squeezed her eyes shut and cringed as the inevitable violation of her mind began again. Shadow pulled her hands back, leaving Willow once again gasping on the table. Shadow giggled giddily and put her hand to her heart.
“Another blonde? I should have guessed,” Shadow said, walking back to the end of the table. “You got a thing for blondes, don’tcha? There’s Rowena…Tara…Buffy. Ooops! Wait, wasn’t s’posed to say that, was I?”
Shadow laughed again and waved her hand at Willow, releasing her from her bonds. Willow rolled off the table, nearly falling when her feet hit the floor, but she used the table’s edge to hold herself up.
“You know, I’m thinking there’s more to the story here,” Shadow said, walking back around the table. “Tara was years ago, but I’m sensing something much more recent…You know, I really think Rowena should join us. In fact, I’ll go invite her…right now!”
“No!” Willow screamed, reaching out toward Shadow, but the sorceress simply blipped away. Willow fell to her knees, crying, “No…please, no…”
End of Act Two